Successful Businesses Need Empathy

Empathy matters when it comes to many things — such as business, design, and relationships to name a few. Katrina Michie, author at Girlsay Stories, wrote a very relevant blog on why empathy matters in advertising and design. Read the original here. I took her points on why empathy matters in advertising and applied it to business as a whole.

1. Empathy is understanding you’re not the buyer

Typically in a business, there is a party that comes up with an idea and sells that idea to a buyer. Empathy is crucial when it comes to business because whatever you are selling has to appeal to a specific audience. Anybody can have a great idea, but if you don’t know who you’re selling to, how can you sell to them? To be really effective, we have to place ourselves in the shoes of the buyer and connect to a truth within their lives. David Ogilvy once said, “Advertisers who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore the signs of the enemy.”

It isn’t enough to stereotype your buyer. Extensive research and immersion is required to truly understand your audience. Yes we might know things such as what type of professional career they have, what age range, what gender…but where do they hang out? What motivates them? What makes them feel accomplished? What scares them? Do your research, observe, interview, and delve into the lives of people who may have a different worldview than you.

“…we have to place ourselves in the shoes of the buyer and connect to a truth within their lives”

2. Empathy requires creative growth and collaboration

Selling your idea to somebody other than yourself could be hard if you can’t relate to them. When you channel empathy into your work, you gain fresh perspectives through collaboration. What is beautiful in this context? Who does this appeal to? What does your audience relate to? You grow as a creative when you seriously consider getting to know your audience.

Collaborating is key if you are trying to get new perspectives. Listen to your team — that includes product people, researchers, analysts, oh and don’t forget the intern either. Each of these people have a different understanding of the equation and will provide the insight you are missing.

“Collaborating is key if you are trying to get new perspectives”

3. Empathy forces diversity

When marketing a business, your own personal taste and ideas can only take you so far. Empathy in business means that you are incorporating diverse voices other than your own. Whom are you targeting? If mothers are your target audience, plan to have a mother in your brainstorm room. When we bring empathy and diversity to our companies, we are able to push the envelope when it comes to new and compelling ideas.

“Good ideas are not born in a vacuum. The best ideas understand context, culture, and audience.” -Katrina Michie

To succeed in a fast-paced, hyper-competitive, global marketplace…companies need to constantly innovate. To accomplish that, the first step is to incorporate empathy into your business plans.

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